A public consultation has commenced on a proposal for managing separate claimants to the Single Farm Payment and the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances Schemes on a single land parcel – commonly referred to as dual use claims.
SFP/LFACA dual use claims have existed in the north since the start of the Single Farm Payment Scheme in 2005. In practice, they are widespread and could typically, on an annual basis, involve 7,000+ SFP claimants and 5,000+ LFACA claimants.
Explaining the reason for the consultation, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “European Commission auditors have raised objections to our approach on dual use claims and have already applied disallowance in respect of 2007 and 2008. Failure to address the matter now could leave my Department vulnerable to further disallowance and that is a prospect I wish to avoid.
“After considering a number of alternative approaches, I believe that the best way forward, at this stage, is to devise an enhanced control framework to manage SFP/LFACA dual use claims. This framework will seek to demonstrate that the separate claimants to the SFP and the LFACA Schemes on a single land parcel have put in place the necessary arrangements to enable them to meet their respective Scheme obligations.”
Under the new proposal a standard written conacre agreement would be required between the SFP and the LFACA Scheme claimants where a dual use claim exists. This agreement should specify that the land in question is at the disposal of the SFP applicant, is used by the LFACA Scheme applicant for the relevant LFACA eligibility period, and affirm that there is a responsibility on each party to meet cross compliance requirements.
The Minister continued: “It would be my intention to introduce this requirement into the LFACA Scheme in early 2013, so it will become a Scheme condition. In future, failure to produce a written agreement when requested to do so could result in the LFACA payment being refused and a penalty for over declaration being considered.
“In order to make compliance with this control process as easy as possible for claimants, my officials have worked with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to adapt the Institute’s model conacre licence agreement to meet a SFP/LFACA dual use claims purpose. A draft copy of the agreement has been provided within the consultation document.”
The Minister concluded: “This is a very important consultation and the method proposed for addressing the issue will affect SFP and LFACA claimants who are involved in renting land. I am, therefore, encouraging all individuals and organisations that have an interest in this area to consider the consultation document carefully, particularly the preferred approach for going forward, and let my Department have their views.”
The consultation will close on 9 November 2012 and copies of the consultation documents are available by visiting the consultation section of the DARD website: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/